We got the first call three weeks ago when Mark’s father was found unconscious in his apartment where he lived alone.
After two weeks of hospitalization, the doctors began to tell us that he would likely not regain consciousness and recover. Because his wife died several years ago, this left the four siblings to have to make a decision about hospice.
In the early hours of Sunday morning we got the final phone call that Mark’s dad had passed into the arms of Jesus. His suffering was over; for that we are grateful.
Yesterday was a day of processing. His dad was not involved much in his life until his adult years. The emotions are mixed as you no longer can wish for what you always hoped might be different in some way. Yet, in the midst of the hard, there was also good. Mark had the opportunity to lead both his dad and his wife to Christ several years ago. With both of their deaths, we knew where they were headed for eternity. What a privilege.
Personally I loved my father-in-law as he accepted me as a member of the family from day one. That meant a lot to me. I didn’t meet him until a couple of years after our wedding, but both he and his wife were both very welcoming to us as Mark “re-entered” his life now accompanied with a family.
Yesterday, as we drove to church, Mark shared some of the emotions he was feeling. I just listened and occasionally affirmed his feelings. There was nothing I needed to add to the conversation. An emotional dumping is just that…a dumping. There’s no right and no wrong. No advice needed. Just feelings that need to be talked about.
As I thought about yesterday, I had to ask myself how many of these moments I miss on a day to day basis. A death is a pretty big deal that makes us pause and process. It’s like a period or an exclamation point in a sentence that requires us to stop before moving on to the next sentence. But there are other day to day life experiences that we likely miss out on processing because they look more like a comma and we push right pass them, missing the need to pause and process. Listen and learn. Care and feel.
In my book My Heart’s at Home, I talk about 12 roles that home plays in our life. One of those roles is ‘Home as a Trauma Unit.’ When life hurts, home needs to be a place of healing. That can happen when something as big as a death occurs, and it can happen when something as small as a disappointment at work occurs.
As you head into this week, where does your home need to be a trauma unit as it pertains to your marriage? Where do you need to listen well? Where do you need to withhold your opinion and offer compassion instead?
If you’ll make home a safe place for your spouse to feel, you’ll be on your way to deepening the connection you feel with one another.